Running for a cause in Riverhead — and for 24 hours

TIM GANNON PHOTO | Participants were all smiles Thursday, despite the rain.

Wondering who all those people running around downtown Riverhead Thursday night?

They were participating in downtown’s “Second Annual Riverfront 24 Endurance Run/Walk,” which kicked off in a slight drizzle about 3 p.m. Thursday, with heavier rains sweeping through the area every so often.

The event will challenger runners or walkers to go for 24 hours straight in a loop around downtown. The run/walk is an effort to raise money and awareness for the Suffolk County United Veterans, a non-profit group based in Riverhead that provides shelters and other assistance to homeless veterans.

The event’s organizer, Chris Cuddihy, did the 24-hour run by himself last year, also for the veterans group, but this year, the event is open to anyone else who wants to join as well.

He says about 150 people, many in teams, could potentially participate before the event concludes. Mr. Cuddihy is asking participants to donate $25 to Suffolk County United Veterans, either as they register or at

About 15 participants started the run Thursday, and others were expected to join later.

Among those running are Sam Cila of Riverhead, an Iraq Veteran who lost part of his left arm after an improvised explosive device (IED) went out off just outside of Baghdad. He has since participated in numerous endurance events himself, and earlier this year was among a group of wounded veterans chosen to participate in a mountain bike ride with former President George W. Bush.

Also running is Amy Palmiero-Winters, a former high school track and swimming star who lost her left leg below the knee in a 1994 motorcycle accident. She now competes in marathons and triathlons with a prosthetic leg and holds 11 world records for amputees.

“This girl is just phenomenal, and Sam is an awesome guy,” Mr. Cuddidy said.

John Lynch, the president of SCUV, and a Vietnam Vet himself, also was running Thursday.

The route will go along the downtown riverfront, just east of the Hyatt Hotel, along the south side of downtown Main Street, where parking has been restricted for Thursday and Friday, and down Peconic Avenue.

The Weather Channel was predicting the rain would stop by early evening before making another brief reappearance about 9 p.m Thursday.

Friday should be mostly clear and sunny.

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